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‘Trade is at its worst for 20 years’

CONCERNED ... Lesley Dawson, owner of Lesley-Annz clothing shop.

CONCERNED ... Lesley Dawson, owner of Lesley-Annz clothing shop.

MP Emma Lewell-Buck’s intervention has been welcomed by the traders she visited, including Lesley-Annz ladies’ fashion shop in the Market Place and Premier Furnishings and Carpets in King Street.

Michael Blake, owner of Premier Furnishings, has revealed he pays a whopping £600 a week in rates – twice as much as he pays in rent.

And in the last four years he has seen profits fall from up to £12,000 a week to between £700 to £2,000 a week.

He said: “I do appreciate the fact that she made the effort to come and see us and I hope this achieves something.

“We’re really suffering at the hands of competition from internet shopping, and parking is also a big issue.

“I have people in here who say after 10 minutes that they have to dash – because their car is on a meter. Shoppers can’t relax.”

Lesley Dawson, owner of Lesley-Annz fashions, said: “Just take a look around. It is shocking. There’s no shops. There’s nothing.

“I have been in the trade 20 years and this is the worst I have known it.

“We have lost so much footfall since Wouldhave House and Franchis cafe were demolished. We know there’s a new library to be built on the site, but that’s two years away. That’s a long time.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck also sought the views of David Hedley, owner of the Market Cobbler, also in the Market Place.

 

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